Feathered Dinosaur Tail Discovered Trapped In Amber

Posted: Dec 9 2016, 4:13am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

Feathered Dinosaur Tail Discovered Trapped in Amber
This photograph shows the tip of a preserved dinosaur tail section, showing carbon film at its surface exposure, and feathers arranged in keels down both sides of tail. Credit: Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM/ R.C. McKellar)
  • 99-Million-Year-Old Feathered Dinosaur Tail Discovered Trapped in Amber
 

99-million-year-old dinosaur tail covered in feathers found preserved first time in a chunk of amber.

Scientists have found a dinosaur tail complete with its feathers intact in amber. The discovery was reported in a journal. This will help in piecing together the puzzle of dinosaur feathers which are not normally found along with their remnant fossils.

Although these feathers are not the first to be found stuck in amber since the earlier samples were more or less difficult to identify as to which animal they belonged to. The scientists can be sure regarding these ones though. 

It is basically a tail of a juvenile dinosaur. There are eight vertebrates that it consists of. Not only is the tail piece surrounded by feathers, it is remarkably well-preserved in the amber in a three-dimensional form.

The piece is intact down to the tiniest details. The source can be said to be a dinosaur with surety since the vertebrae are not fused as they are in birds. Instead the tail is lengthy and very agile.

Feathers flow on either side of it. The first author of the study concerning this piece of amber, found it at a marketplace in Myanmar. It would have become an object of interest or a jewelry had it not been purchased right away. 

Recognition of its scientific value therefore came rather late. The tail embedded in the amber belongs to a theropod. The time period is in the middle of the Cretaceous Era. That would have been 99 million years ago.

In the beginning, it was difficult to discern the various parts of the tail piece. Yet the researchers slowly but surely began the investigation and ended up knowing a lot about the specimen. The research work included CT scans and microscopic analysis. 

The feathers show that the tail had a brownish upper area. Its underbelly was pale white though. Also we get a better understanding of the evolution of feathers via this study.

These feathers lack a central shaft. The sample shows that barbs and barbules evolved on the timeline before the central shaft. At the end of the tail, which lay exposed outside the amber, ferrous iron was detected meaning that hemoglobin was once a part of its makeup.

Amber remains a perfect and ideal medium to preserve samples of old fossils. The animal or plant gets trapped in its layers and is preserved for all time like a unique snapshot. 

The finding of this research reported in the journal Current Biology on December 8.

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